Stranger Things, season 1
Look, a viewer familiar with the canon can see every blessed one of the major plot points coming from miles away. But it was the small touches–playing fair to the rules set up by the premise, great moody music, creepy lighting, a compelling performance by Winona Ryder, the friendship themes, and even the unexpectedly humane turn taken by the pretty-boy-boyfriend late in the story–that made it for me. I haven’t watched anything with as much enrapt glee as I watched ST in quite some time. One favorite moment [SPOILER]: van flip. When a show is (relatively) sparing with its effects and action sequences (compared, I mean, to the standards of current summer entertainments), those simple sequences can be amazingly effective. I actually squealed.
We were not of the chosen who got to see the original cast perform (or any cast, apart from youtube clips etc.), but the cast recording–wow. I’m obsessed. I cry every time, several times.
Call Your Girlfriend (podcast)
I love both the premise and the hosts.
Snap Judgment (podcast)
Can I quit my job and work with these people? Great storytelling by great storytellers.
True Detectives (HBO)
Story-telling to envy: mood and menace, haunted characters and landscapes, and an investigation of partners’ relationship to one another.
Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
A humane, absorbing story. Amazing.
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni
Terrific, well-imagined novel of the 19th century immigrant experience–through the points of view of supernatural figures from the Arabic and Jewish traditions.
An interesting and culturally-rich city that I had the pleasure of visiting a few weeks ago, and that I look forward to visiting again. I could live at Powell’s.
Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
A well-made TV series, Elementary updates the basic Sherlock Holmes story in good ways. Miller’s Sherlock is eccentric, manic, and winsome, and Joan Watson is smart and grounded but also curious and possessing of humor. Great team, enjoyable stories, funny and unexpected moments each episode. Also a cast of interesting supporting characters, whose stories are developing gradually.
Arcadia, Lauren Groff
Exquisite–I am unlikely to read anything this good for quite some time. A rather quiet book about individuals and community and the universe, but with such a voice–attuned and aware and approaching mystical, but never precious or overwritten. Such imagery. Deep sadnesses but also deep beauties.
50/50 (film) and Parks and Recreation season 5 episode “Two Parties”
I saw 50/50 a while back but remembered it after watching the bachelor parties of this Parks and Rec episode. Stories of warm and funny, but also deeply loving, male friendships.
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson
A film that beautifully captures a number of the moments on the cliff between childhood and adulthood. Choosing a favorite W.A. film becomes increasingly difficult.
The Joffrey Ballet performing Bells (2011)–choreography by Possokhov, music by Rachmaninov
Sublime and lush. Unforgettable.
Carry the One, Carol Anshaw–Simon and Schuster
The story of an accident and its aftermath, with characters who respond to this event and the subsequent decades in believable ways. Characters that the writer has respect for, but whom she still shows as humanly-flawed; and fine writing that surprises you with its insights, without ever becoming precious.
Charlie Jane Anders, “Six Months, Three Days”–tor.com
“The man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.” A great premise, honestly realized, as characters with clairvoyance stumble through their relationship.
Full of humanity, like the best stories in One Story.